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Congress' vote share increases

delhi Updated: May 18, 2009 00:55 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Election results never cease to surprise.

Otherwise, how does one explain that in a decade between two Lok Sabha elections — in 1999 and 2009 — the Congress’s vote share increased by just 0.5 per cent to 28.6 per cent but its tally went up by 91 seats to 205 this time?

A decade ago, the BJP had sprung a similar surprise when it got a smaller percentage of votes (23.75 per cent) than the Congress (28.30) but emerged as the largest party with 182 seats.

In this election, the BJP got 18.82 per cent of over 42 crore votes but fetched only 116 seats.

“The right combination with right issues work. The Congress did better homework than the BJP,” said Satish Desphande, a sociologist with Delhi School of Economics.

An analysis of Election Commission data revealed that three states made a huge difference for the Congress this time -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan.

UP gave the Congress 21 seats with a 6 per cent increase in vote share -- the highest for the party among major states. In 2004, the party had 12 MPs from UP with a vote share of 12 per cent.

Digvijay Singh, 61, party in-charge for UP, described the gain as a revival of the party in its “oldest bastion”, giving all credit to “young leader” Rahul Gandhi.

Although in Bihar, the Congress got only two of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, its vote share increased from 4 per cent in 2004 to 10 per cent this time.

Huge gains for the Congress in these two states hurt its allies, the Samajwadi Party (SP) in UP and RJD in Bihar the most because of the division of votes.

Although the SP lost only 3 per cent votes this time, its number fell by 12 seats. If the SP had contested in an alliance with the Congress, it would have won a large number of seats, SP general secretary Amar Singh said.

In Bihar, if the Congress, RJD and Lok Janshakti Party had contested as an alliance, the combine would have got 37 per cent votes, 1 per cent less than the JD(U)-BJP alliance, which won 32 seats.

Although the Congress was expected to do well in Rajasthan, a gain of 16 seats is not reflected in a meagre increase in vote share of close to 6 per cent.